Should an adult leave home or help their family?

Agnes asks: I’m kind of lost in the middle of this world, bringing me to stress & depression. I’m a 32-year-old woman, working in Sales operations, and I just broke up with my boyfriend. But that is not my problem, because I know it’s totally over. My big dilemma is that I’m currently living in the City, but since my Mother and other family back at hometown found out about the end of my relationship with my ex-boyfriend, they have several times asked me to come back for good and run our small family business there. The problem is it’s hard for me to leave this city. I have been here for fifteen years, since I was in Primary school, and I’m comfortable here. And I have this thought, that when you go back to your hometown, it means you failed to make a living in the city. At the same time, I know Family is a priority, and a good future waits for me if I continue my family business (my current job is just for survival income). I really need your advice. Should I continue living in the city or go back? With my unstable emotions these days, I really don’t know what to do with my life now.

Hi Agnes –

The problem you’re having, Agnes, is a universal one.  Everyone struggles between the wish for the security and stability of home, and the desire to determine their own life.  Even look at us dogs – we’re so loyal to our humans, but always digging and clawing to find ways to get out of our homes and go explore.

The issue is the timing.

With us, it’s pretty simple.  Most of us start as puppies, afraid to be away from our mother or other caretakers, but then as we get more confident, we struggle to get away whenever we can.  Then eventually we mature, and get to loving staying near our human or dog friends, and guarding our homes.

With you people, though, it seems to come in waves.  You’ll be a toddler hiding behind your mother’s leg, then a few months later, you’re the kid scurrying around the mall with all the adults frantically trying to find you.  Then you’ll become the home-bound kid who wants to play video games all day and not even go out with friends, but then turn into the teenager who can’t stand having to leave their peers and be home by a curfew.

As adults, except for the most confident humans, things often get determined by who else is in their life.  So, for example, you, Agnes, were content to live in the city as long as your boyfriend was there.  It’s only after that relationship ended that you’re feeling pulled in two directions.

So, naturally, I have two thoughts on this.  The first is that, if there’s a really major reason, that should overwhelm anything else.  For example, if your family was going to lose their home if you didn’t move there, and you’d be saving all of them, then of course you should go and be great.  Or if your family started treating you horribly, then I’d say to get out and enjoy the life you create for yourself elsewhere.

But if nothing like that is going on, then my advice is to stop worrying about what others think, and how you look (or think you look) to them.

If moving back with your family would make you happy and fulfilled, then forget the jerks who’d say “oh she failed in the city.”  Anyone who’d talk that way is a bigger failure than you’ll ever be!  And if living in the city would bring you joy and happiness and pride, then invite your family to come out and join you there; don’t let their desire to stay in one place determine your future.

You are you, Agnes.  If this whole adventure, with the breakup and all, results in you learning to know yourself and your feelings as you never have before, this’ll be one of the best things that’s ever happened to you.  Maybe that’ll mean that you realize that, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, your travels have just proven that what you really want is to be home with your family.  Or maybe it’ll mean that you gain the strength you never had when you were with your boyfriend, and can embark on all sorts of new adventures.

Both are great.  Your job now is to decide for yourself.  Which may be the first time you’ve ever fully done that in your life!

Go for it!  Whatever choice you make will be the right one, as long as you obey your own heart.

Good Luck!


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